Santa is one of the most recognizable figures anywhere, ever, so of course he’s been portrayed too many times to count. He’s a complex guy, leaving him open to many different interpretations. This list chronicles the Top 5 Santas ever and manages to capture all of the great sides of Santa.
5. Al Weber, “Scrooged” (1988)
Appearing in a fake commercial for a movie within a movie, Al Weber stars as Santa in “The Night the Reindeer Died,” an action movie starring Lee Majors that Bill Murray’s character has produced. Santa is only on screen for a few moments, but he’s holding an assault rifle in nearly every shot, which pleases me greatly. “You’ve been a real good boy” he deeply intones while brandishing a firearm. That’s my kind of Santa.
4. Chris Sarandon, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993)
He might be weird, but Chris Sarandon as a weird, warped, Tim Burton-esque Santa is delightful. He perfectly nails the inquisitiveness that Santa must have. The big jolly man spends all year keeping tabs on kids to see if they are naughty or nice, so he must be a curious guy. Jack Skellington is amazed and curious about everything, and Chris Sarandon’s voice work is positively brimming with curiosity. He brings a joy to the role of Jack Skellington that isn’t seen in many other Santa’s that will warm anyone’s heart.
3. Tim Allen, “The Santa Clause” (1994)
Tim Allen is the definitive Santa Claus of our generation, a classic good guy. Tim Allen has had a pretty varied and spotty career, but he’s perfect for the role of Santa, bringing all of the dependable classic man qualities he fostered on “Home Improvement” to the role. “The Santa Clause” isn’t anything new, but it has a palpable charm with a good old-fashioned feel that makes it a Christmas classic.
2. Edmund Gwenn, “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947)
Edmund Gwenn is the Santa Claus that all other Santa Claus’ must compare themselves to. As a Macy’s store Santa who convinces people of the spirit of Christmas, Edmund Gwenn exudes warmth and grace to the point that even the audience watching it are kinda convinced that he’s the real Santa, not simply an accomplished actor.
1. Mickey Rooney, “The Year Without A Santa Claus” (1974)
This Rankin/Bass semi-sequel to “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is my favorite Christmas movie (even beating “Die Hard”). Mickey Rooney’s performance as Santa captures all of the warmth and charm of the other Santas on this list, while still finding the melancholy in the role of a guy who slaves away all year for kids who eventually grow up to not believe in him. It’s the most well-rounded Santa performance ever.